|Friday, 24 May 2013|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-11-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 15, 2001
 FM discusses Cyprus, Afghanistan and Balkans with Annan
NEW YORK, 15/11/2001 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Wednesday UN Secretary General Kofi Annan reassured him that he will continue efforts to achieve a solution to the Cyprus issue.
Speaking to reporters after his 45-minute meeting with Annan, Papandreou said the UN chief is making clear to all parties involved that an opportunity exists now due to Cyprus's course towards the European Union.
Papandreou said that Annan underlined that Cyprus will join the EU one way or another, in the framework of the EU's enlargement process, regardless of whether these efforts are crowned with success. But in any case he made it clear to the parties involved that there are specific expiry dates and opportunities and efforts should be made to utilize them.
On the question of Afghanistan, Papandreou said they had the opportunity to examine the issue in depth. He said the UN is at a very crucial phase of negotiations for the creation of a government including all ethnic groups and being fully representative.
He said this is not easy to achieve, but it should be achieved very soon due to the big humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
Papandreou said he and Annan also discussed the issue of the Olympic Truce. He added that an effort will also be made during the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, in the U.S., to enable the truce to be implemented in conflicts such as in the Middle East and the Balkans.
He expressed the conviction that the truce effort is a very strong "diplomatic tool" which will be able to substantively help the UN's efforts for negotiations and pacification in various regions of the world.
Referring to bilateral contacts he had in the framework of the General Assembly, Papandreou pointed out that he is continuing his contacts with Arab and Balkan countries for Greece to contribute to the joint effort to curb armaments, the stabilization and support of the dialogue and the peace process in the Middle East issue.
Referring to the situation in the Balkans, Papandreou said there is a positive climate in general and all foreign ministers are trying to support it, continuing efforts for the region's stabilization and the accession of candidate countries to the EU.
Papandreou said Greece will have a leading role in this process, adding that its support is requested in all negotiation processes on general issues and, in particular, on the possibilities of their European perspective.
On the question of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Papandreou said there was an additional crisis in past days, which appears to have been overcome.
"We hope that the agreement signed in Ohrid will pass through Parliament soon to enable the various issues, the confidence-building measures and the processes agreed to forge ahead and for the situation in FYROM to be stabilized at last," Papandreou said.
Replying to a question on FYROM's name, Papandreou said there is nothing new, procedures are continuing in the framework of the UN and reiterated that for as long as there is internal instability in the country, it is very difficult for a decision to be taken on the name.
Papandreou said he briefed the secretary general on his meeting with the Organizationís representative on the issue of FYROM's name, Mathew Nimetz. He added that a review of the situation was made with Nimetz and the need was stressed to pursue a mutually acceptable solution.
Referring to his meeting with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, Papandreou said they discussed bilateral issues which were pending and which had been resolved in past months, such as the issue of police cooperation between Greece and the U.S., the issue of the "Voice of America" and copyrights.
Papandreou also said he had bilateral talks with his Libyan and Albanian counterparts on Wednesday.
 Greek ambassador in Washington outlines Greece's int'l role
WASHINGTON, 15/11/2001 (ANA - T. Ellis)Greece's international role was outlined Tuesday by the country's envoy to the United States, Alexander Philon, in an address at the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs.
Philon noted that Greek-US relations were at their best-ever level, as numerous bilateral matters had been resolved and the two countries were working closely on the international scene, ranging from Balkan stabilization to combatting international terrorism.
He referred to the military and other facilities provided by the Greek government to the US side in the campaign against terrorism, and the close cooperation between the two countries' police authorities in the effort to stamp out terrorist organizations in Greece.
The envoy further outlined the course of the Greek-Turkish rapprochement and Greece's support for Turkey's candidacy for EU membership, explaining that this was conditional to the neighboring country's proceeding with domestic political and economic reforms and adapting its foreign policy vis-a-vis Greece and Cyprus.
On the Cyprus issue, Philon pointed out the benefits from Cyprus' imminent EU accession in the first wave of EU enlargement, adding that there could be no further improvement in Greek-Turkish relations if the Cyprus issue was not solved with the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops from the island republic and the establishment of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
Philon further noted Greece's presence in the Balkans, where it comprises one of the biggest investors in all the neighboring countries and played a leading role in the economic growth, democratization and stabilization of the region.
On the organization of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Philon stressed the importance of this national venture, which he said required the rallying of all the forces of the nation and adherence to the timetables for the construction of the Olympic projects.
Finally, referring to American press claims of anti-Americanism in Greece, Philon said that protest rallies by a few thousand people should not be bloated out of proportion, noting that the Greek people supported the responsible stance of the Greek government in the fight against terrorism.
 Giannitsis: EU expansion timetable will be met
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Greece's alternate foreign minister on Wednesday reiterated that the timetable for European Union expansion would be met, whereas there is no intent for delays.
Alternate FM Tassos Giannitsis made the statement in response to the publication of progress reports for EU candidate-members, adding that the reports are a political process par excellence, one that reflects the Union's political and economic situation.
Speaking to reporters, Giannitsis said expansion is a tool for Europe's political strengthening, while noting that timetables for the 10 member-states will be adopted by the European Council Laaken in December.
"The European Commission in its annual progress report has detected problems in certain countries regarding issues of corruption, the public administration's operation, the economy and the justice sector," he said.
Conversely, Giannitsis said Cyprus has posted noteworthy progress in all aspects of the Union's acquis communautaire.
"Accession will be completed even if - despite the efforts of others - there is no solution to the Cyprus problem," he stressed.
 Government satisfied with European Commission's report on Cyprus
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopappas on Wednesday expressed the Greek government's absolute satisfaction over the European Commission's latest report on Cyprus' accession course to the European Union.
"We are working for a solution to the Cyprus issue. Accession will take place in accordance with the European Union's positions which constitute the absolute continuation of the Helsinki decisions and, of course, they are being confirmed continuously," Protopappas said.
 German SPD Eurodeputy calls on Turkey to change course on Cyprus issue
BERLIN, 15/11/2001 (ANA - P. Stangos)German SPD Eurodeputy Mechtilde Rote on Wednesday called on the Turkish government to change course on the Cyprus issue, a move that "is in the interest of Turkey it self".
Commenting on the recent European Commission report on candidate member-states, which lauded Cyprus' successes in incorporating the acquis communautaire, but was less than favorable for Turkey's record, she said that "as long as Ankara maintains the occupation of northern Cyprus, there will not be an accession of Turkey to the European Union and even in the unlikely event that Turkey moves on with the annexation of the occupied (part of the island republic), then it will lose its European prospects".
 Events to mark 'November 17' Polytechnic uprising
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Events marking the 28th anniversary since a 1973 student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic, which helped topple the military junta then ruling Greece, will begin on Thursday and end on Saturday.
Due to the terror attacks in the United States and the war in Afghanistan, security will be tighter and the area around the Polytechnic building will begin to be guarded from Wednesday.
During the three-day celebrations, the gates of the polytechnic campus will open at 9:00 and close at 21:00 in the evening. Students and professors will remain in the building, while the university's administration will be in constant session on Thursday.
Andreas Andriopoulos, vice-rector for academic affairs will be in charge.
Annual events to mark the anniversary will be held in schools throughout the country on Friday, while the central event on November 17, the day the student uprising was brutally crushed by junta troops, will be held on Saturday.
On that day, the gates of the polytechnic will close at 13:00 and the annual march to the US Embassy will begin at 15:30.
In Thessaloniki, the anniversary will be marked with a march beginning at 18:00 on Saturday.
 Interior ministry simplifies application process for work permits to foreigners
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)The ministry of interior on Wednesday announced that foreign nationals who have temporary residence status and are applying for work permits will be allowed to substitute the submittal of the criminal record certification with a personal written declaration along with an application for the certification.
This change was made to facilitate bureaucratic processes for foreign workers in Greece, in light of the pending legislation for the legalization of foreign nationals who reside in Greece.
The application for the certification will then be relayed to the justice ministry, which will be responsible for sending the certification to the relevant authorities.
The work permit will be issued immediately, if all other affidavits are submitted, while in the event that the declaration for the criminal record was false then the work permit would be immediately suspended on grounds of public safety.
The circular of the ministry also stressed that the authorities accepting the work permit applications would not be accepting any payment for that service.
 Agriculture minister meets U.S. ambassador
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Agriculture Minister George Drys held a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller at the ministry on Wednesday morning at the latter's request.
The meeting concerned issues of bilateral cooperation and agricultural policy in general.
They expressed satisfaction over the positive development of trade between the two countries in the agricultural sector.
 Romanian President Iliescu to visit next week
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Romanian president Ion Iliescu will pay a state visit to Greece next week, returning a visit by his Greek counterpart Costis Stephanopoulos to Bucharest in 1999.
Iliescu is due to arrive on Wednesday, November 21, for a three-day visit during which he will hold talks with Stephanopoulos and prime minister Costis Simitis.
The agenda for Iliescu's talks in Athens includes Greek-Romanian bilateral relations, the situation in the Balkans, and Romania's bid for membership in the Euro-Atlantic bodies.
 PASOK Central Committee Secretary meets KKE leader
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Ruling PASOK Central Committee Secretary Costas Laliotis met on Wednesday night with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga.
They expressed the usefulness and necessity of a dialogue between the two parties although there were differences separating them.
The two-hour-long meeting was held in a good climate and was within the framework of Laliotis' initiative for a dialogue with the political forces.
Papariga said that both sides aired their views on general developments, adding that there were differences between the two parties of strategic importance and that these differences determined the KKE's stance toward the two major parties.
The KKE Secretary General noted that her party does not refuse dialogue when there are common positions on one or more issues. She clarified however that on issues of political cooperation there was not the required basis.
Laliotis said that dialogue constitutes an element of PASOK policy, adding that open democratic dialogue which has substance and prospect is necessary regardless of differences.
 MPs table bill facilitating war reparations suits against foreign states
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)A bill for the ratification of a European treaty that might favor those seeking compensation for atrocities committed by Nazi troops in Greece was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday by 18 MPs from ruling PASOK, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left and Progress.
If passed, the bill would ratify a treaty signed in 1972, at a time when Greece was ruled by an oppressive military junta, which would allow the execution of Greek court orders against a foreign state without its written consent.
The treaty was signed by Attica MP Theodoros Pangalos, one of the MPs seeking its ratification through this bill, when he was foreign minister in 1994.
Once in force, the treaty will facilitate the execution of court orders in a case brought against Germany by the relatives of World War II atrocity victims, who have been unable to claim compensation awarded them by the courts.
Despite winning their case, rulings to seize and auction German state properties in Greece - namely the Goethe Institute and the German Archaeological Society buildings in Athens - have snagged on a law which makes the justice minister's consent necessary for the seizure of assets belonging to a foreign state.
Lawyers representing Germany have successfully reversed orders to confiscate the buildings because the previous justice minister had not authorized their seizure. Plaintiffs in the class-action suit appealed against the freeze and a final decision is due from a special supreme court council that will seek to reconcile conflicting rulings on the issue by the Supreme Court and the Council of State.
The order to confiscate the two buildings was originally issued by a lower court in central Greece, following a supreme court decision in favor of relatives of 214 Distomo villagers killed by Nazi occupation troops in June 1944 and an order to Germany to pay 9.4 billion drachmas in compensation.
 ND leader cites support for independent Palestine; peace for Israel
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday reiterated his support for the recognition of an independent Palestinian state as well as the safeguarding of peace for Israel.
The ND leader made the statements during a luncheon with several ambassadors from Arab nations accredited to Athens.
Karamanlis also emphasized that the obscurant problem of terrorism must be confronted by uniting forces around the world, devoid however, of any notion implying a "clash between religions or civilizations".
According to reports, the Arab states' ambassadors noted that ND is the only major party that has enunciated such a clear stand on the Middle East problem.
Finally, ambassadors from the Maghreb (North African) countries that Greece can become a significant factor in continuing Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.
 Avramopoulos says KEP will take part in general elections
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Movement of Free Citizens (KEP) leader and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos on Wednesday evening termed as groundless speculation that his party would not take part in the general elections, noting that "our aim is the elections and nothing will stop our course."
Speaking at a press conference shortly after inaugurating the party's offices in Iraklion, Crete, Avramopoulos said that his party's founding congress in Thessaloniki from November 23-24 would constitute a landmark for KEP's political course.
He reiterated that he would complete his tenure as Athens Mayor, unless early parliamentary elections were announced.
He expressed doubt whether his party would participate in the municipal and prefectural elections due to the fact that time was running out and because his party was not represented in parliament. However, he excluded any cooperation with other parties, at least until the general elections.
He also criticized the government's agricultural policy.
 PM Simitis, finance minister discuss 2002 state budget
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis met on Wednesday night with Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and discussed the 2002 state budget which will be tabled in Parliament on November 21.
After his meeting with the prime minister, Christodoulakis told reporters that the budget would speed up development and support domestic competition and employment.
The minister said that taxation measures foreseen in the budget would be discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet on Thursday, along with the other basic issues of the budget.
 Govít plans to limit defense spending to 4 per cent of GDP
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Reducing defense spending as a proportion of GDP by one percentage point will be one of the main goals of the defense ministry in the coming years, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told Parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee on Wednesday. Papantoniou said he aimed to bring defense spending down from 5 per cent of GDP in 2000 to the "more realistic and correct" figure of 4 per cent, estimating that this would be achieved at around 2005 and finally become stabilized in 2010.
He also announced the formation of a general secretariat for financial planning and procurements at the ministry, which would be responsible for increasing transparency and preventing corruption in the purchase of armed forces supplies.
The secretariat would be made up of three directorates, he added, one in charge of procurements, another in charge of the annual budget and a third for research and technology.
Regarding existing armaments programs, the minister said that all those not yet ratified would be re-evaluated while the rest would go ahead has planned.
Turning to events in Afghanistan, Papantoniou said that the next meeting of the government council for foreign affairs and defense (KYSEA) would discuss giving further facilities to the United States and allied forces but ruled out sending a Greek military mission to the area.
In response to questions about the European army, meanwhile, he said that Greece would use all legitimate means, including its veto, to block Turkey's "unacceptable demands" for a role in the EU army.
Commenting on government plans to recruit and train a body of professional troops, which would help reduce compulsory national service, Papantoniou told the committee that 25,000 men would be hired in the next three years but admitted that the response to the government's initial invitation for applications had been poor and that it might be necessary to increase the incentives offered.
Finally, he also announced plans to make use of the defense ministry's substantial properties in Attica to raise funds, selling off half of present army bases to local authorities in order to raise funds to improve living conditions in the remaining camps.
 Greek economic sentiment index eases slightly in October
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Greece's economic sentiment index eased slightly in October to 101.6 from 101.8 the previous month, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Wednesday.
IOBE's report said that the decline was smaller compared with a fall in the economic sentiment index in eurozone in October (to 99.3 from 100.3 in September).
The index fell in most other eurozone countries except in France where it remained unchanged in October.
The report said that Greece's economic climate was affected much less than other eurozone countries from a global economic slowdown and the impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.
The decline in the Greek economic sentiment index reflected mainly a fall in the consumers index, with the construction and manufacturing sectors largely untouched by a deteriorating international climate.
The report said that the real economy has not yet recorded significant changes in its figures and that the impact from international developments was mainly felt by consumers.
 Atlantic Bank in NY to acquire Yonkers Financial Corporation
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Atlantic Bank of New York, a subsidiary of state-run National Bank of Greece, is to acquire Yonkers Financial Corporation (YFCB) for an aggregate purchase price of around 69.6 million US dollars in cash, or 29.00 dollars for each common outstanding share of YFCB.
On completion of the transaction, the Yonkers Savings & Loan Association will merge into Atlantic Bank, the two companies said in a joint statement released in New York.
On September 30, Yonkers Financial had total assets of 571.1 million dollars and deposits of 389.5 million dollars. It operates through nine branch locations in Westchester and Duchess Counties, and has a customer base of about 18,000 households.
The deal is due for completion in the first half of 2002, pending approval by regulatory authorities and shareholders of Yonkers Financial, the statement said.
Under the terms of the contract the two parties have signed, Atlantic has an option to purchase Yonkers Financial's common stock equal to 19.9 percent of the firm's outstanding common stock, it added.
National Bank of Greece is a heavily traded stock on the Athens Stock Exchange.
 Ship owners donate $150,000 for NYC victims, Orthodox church
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)The president of Greece's shipowner presented the US ambassador in Athens on Wednesday with two checks worth $50,000 each for the families of New York City firefighters and police officers who died while on duty during the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes.
Union of Greek Shipowner (EEE) president Yiannis Lyras presented the two checks to US ambassador Thomas Miller, while expressing shipowner' condolences towards the families of victims and their solidarity to the governments of the United States, the European Union member-states and the rest of the world "towards the eradication of terrorism from wherever it may emanate."
Additionally, EEE also donated $50,000 to the Orthodox Archdiocese of America for the reconstruction of the Orthodox Cathedral of Aghios (St.) Nikolaos in Manhattan, which was destroyed by the fallout from the collapse of the WTC towers.
 AHCC appoints new Executive Director
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)The American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (AHCC) on Wednesday announced the appointment of Alexandros Lamnidis to the position of Executive Director of the Chamber.
An AHCC Executive Committee announcement said Lamnidis has a strong and extensive background in human resources, quality management, franchising, and marketing.
Prior to his appointment at the Chamber he was managing director of Trekking Hellas Group of Companies and has held management positions at McDonald's Hellas and Hewlett-Packard Hellas
Lamnidis is the current president of the Franchise Association of Greece.
A native of Athens, he received his Bachelor's degree from Leicester University in the UK, where he studied economics, and earned his Master's degree in management from Boston University in the US.
 European Technical wins Olympics tender for Marathon route
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)European Technical announced on Wednesday that it had won a road-widening tender for the Marathon event in the 2004 Olympics to be hosted by Athens.
In the 11.1-billion-drachma project, the company will widen existing roads from Nea Makri to Pallini, east of Athens.
A contract will be signed for the project, which falls under the jurisdiction of the public works ministry, following a routine check by the state's Auditing Council.
Works are due for completion 700 days after a contract is signed. European Technical says it plans to finish 90 days earlier, gaining a productivity bonus awarded for early project completion.
 Greece launches individual stock futures on Monday
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)The Athens Derivatives Market is to launch individual stock futures on Monday, expanding its range from current trade in equity index futures, authorities said.
In a statement on Wednesday, authorities said they had prepared an investors' guide on the market, and directives to aid its members handle the new form of trade.
Further information is available on the market's website, www.adex.ase.gr
 ASE follows international markets' rally
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Greek stocks ended Wednesday's session sharply higher with the market following a rally of prices in international bourses on hopes of a quick end to the war in Afghanistan.
Buying interest focused on smaller capitalization stocks with several blue chip stocks scoring big gains.
The general index ended 2.23 percent higher at 2,690.14 points, with turnover an improved 73.5 billion drachmas, or 215.6 million euros.
The Construction and IT Solutions sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (up 5.95 percent and 4.71 percent, respectively), while the Insurance and Food sectors suffered the heaviest losses (off 2.15 percent and 0.25 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.91 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 3.12 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index jumped 3.13 percent higher.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 324 to 27 with another 14 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded shares were Koumbas, Hellenic Tele-communications Organization, Naoussa Textile Mills, Cosmote, National Bank of Greece and Alpha Bank.
Equity futures discount main market rise: Equity futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday ended higher with turnover up, discounting a healthy performance by the main market.
Changing hands were 10,451 contracts on turnover of 63.0 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips gained 1.91% percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks rose 3.12 percent.
Bond Prices nose down in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished slightly lower in heavy trade focusing on 10-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 4.90 percent, and the yield spread over German bunds was 43 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.6 billion euros.
Sell orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.
 PM calls for 'Olympic Truce' among all involved in Games' preparations
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday demanded a lo-cal version of an "Olympic Truce" amongst all parties active in the 2004 Games' preparations, as the specter of delays and bureaucratic wrangling dominated political deliberations and headlines in Greece over the past few days.
Simitis will also assume the role of Greece's chief interlocutor with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a deputy press minister told reporters after an inter-ministerial committee session.
"The Olympic Games are a national goal and cannot be turned into an opportunity for petty political exploitation," Simitis told members of the committee - one week before an IOC delegation returns to Athens to gauge Greek organizers' progress. He also called for "balance" and moderation by all in order to stop what he termed as a "dramatization, whenever problems surface."
The inter-ministerial committee meeting came on the heels of Sunday's publication of a lengthy two-month letter by a top IOC executive and a barrage of verbal attacks and counter-attacks between the PASOK government and main opposition New Democracy.
In the published letter, IOC vice-president Denis Oswald outlined his concerns about support infrastructure, the construction of a handful of venues undertaken by the General Sports Secretariat -- several of which he placed in a 'high risk' category - as well as the ability of Greece's local construction sector to complete major projects, along with hotel capacity and other auxiliary programs related to Olympics preparations.
On Wednesday, however, Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Chytiris said members of the inter-ministerial committee - which oversees the state's presence on numerous construction projects and infrastructure -- were briefed on the progress of several venues since September, when Oswald conveyed his concerns shortly after another IOC delegation visit.
The IOC executive's letter had been addressed at the time to the high-profile head of the Athens 2004 organizing committee (2004), Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. Oswald heads the IOC's all-important commission supervising the Games' preparations.
In terms of ATHOC, Hytiris also called cooperation between the government and the former "very good".
Regarding the issue of "alternate scenarios" for certain venues, Chytiris said plans would be given to IOC officials next week, following an IOC request. Finally, he also criticized ND for what he called the main opposition's negative stance over the pace of 2004 preparations.
In exiting the meeting, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos briefly noted that "the government has not overestimated its ability, but we are optimistic."
On her part, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki laconically said after the meeting that: "Ms Angelopoulos is leaving because she has work".
The IOC had issued Athens a "yellow card" more than a year and a half ago after preparations lagged dangerously behind schedule. Since then, and following the assumption of ATHOC's helm by Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, efforts have been visibly accelerated.
The next inter-ministerial meeting is set for Nov. 26.
 ND wants Parliament debate over 2004 preparations
Athens, 15/11/2001 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy will on Wednesday, by all accounts, request a formal Parliament debate on the course of all-important 2004 preparations, an issue that has dominated political deliberations and headlines in the country over the past week.
A ND spokesman reiterated that the main opposition party considers the holding of the Games an issue of tremendous national importance, while criticizing the government for what he called its acts and omissions, "which cause concern to citizens and delays and cost-overruns, as even government cadres now admit."
Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos added that despite a responsible stance by ND and the Greek people, the government refuses do deal with 2004 preparations as a national issue.
 Patrikios presents Cultural Olympiad in London
LONDON, 15/11/2001 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)The first presentation of the Cultural Olympiad in a foreign country was made on Wednesday in London by Cultural Olympiad SA president Titos Patrikios.
Outlining the Cultural Olympiad's aims and significance, Patrikios said it sought to mirror the global character of the sports events with similarly "ecumenical" cultural events, in which all nations, cultures and viewpoints could participate.
"I think the problem of the Olympics is to process the mental and cultural tools that will allow conflicts to be overcome. And I believe that the chief tool is dialogue and communication," he said.
 Cyprus president visits 'ground zero'
NEW YORK, 15/11/2001 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides on Wednesday sent a message of cooperation to the entire humanity and said terrorist attacks must not and should not be allowed to happen again.
The president visited on Wednesday morning the site where the World Trade Center once stood, known as "ground zero", accompanied by his Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, and was received at the entrance of the sealed off area by a representative of the mayor of New York, and two officers from governor Pataki's office, one of whom lost a brother in the September 11 attacks.
"The message that we should send and we are sending is that everybody has to cooperate, the whole of humanity needs to cooperate, so that we do not allow such terrorist attacks to occur as they are contrary to our civilization, our history and our religion," President Clerides said.
 Cyprus foreign ministry satisfied over EU progress report
NICOSIA, 15/11/2001 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus Foreign Ministry has expressed its "satisfaction for the content of the Report of the European Commission on the progress towards accession for Cyprus and the Strategy Paper", describing them as "objective."
An official press release, issued here on Wednesday said that "both texts report objectively the important progress that Cyprus has achieved through serious work in order to promote the task of harmonization with the acquis communautaire, of the reinforcement of its administrative ability for its effective implementation and the realization of its commitments under-taken within the framework of the accession negotiations."
In its statement, the ministry stated "we are fully satisfied by the fact that both the Report on Cyprus' Progress the Report on Turkey's Progress and the Strategy Paper, record the continuing Turkish intransigence in the efforts for the solution of the Cyprus problem, the responsibility of Turkey in the achievement of progress in the efforts of the UN Secretary General and repeat the position of the EU that the settlement of the Cyprus problem does not constitute a precondition of the accession of Cyprus to the EU."
The ministry pointed out that "the texts also make clear that the settlement of the Cyprus problem must be in line with the principles on which the EU is founded and must allow Cyprus to speak with one voice within the EU and be in a position to fully undertake the obligations deriving from its accession and from the fact that it will be a member state."
Expressing satisfaction with the Strategy Paper, the ministry added that the conclusions of the Commission included in the Paper "confirm the predictions and the commitments undertaken by the EU for completion of the accession negotiation by the end of the Danish Presidency of the Council, the second semester of 2002 and the realization of the Enlargement in 2004" and welcomed "the proposals of the Commission which aim at the realization of this target."
Cyprus has already closed 23 out of 29 chapters during accession negotiations and is considered as the front - runner among the 12 candidate countries.
 Cyprus chief negotiator says European Commission's report 'is very positive'
NICOSIA, 15/11/2001 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Chief Negotiator with the EU George Vassiliou said here on Wednesday that the European Commission's 2001 Regular Report on Cyprus' Progress Towards Accession "is very positive" and noted that Cyprus will soon provisionally close the "Justice and Home Affairs" chapter of the acquis communautaire, the 24th chapter in a row out of 29 that should close before the accession takes place.
Vassiliou said approximately 350 harmonizing bills must be tabled and approved by the House plenary by the end of December 2002 and underlined that the Turkish Cypriot community is most welcome to join Cyprus' negotiating team even when Cyprus' negotiations will be almost concluded. He noted that the "Justice and Home Affairs" Chapter is a very significant one for Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations in 1998, since it deals with issues pertaining the British Bases on the island, the borders, the asylum rights, the cooperation between the Police and the Customs Offices as well as the Schengen Treaty.
The Cyprus chief negotiator noted that the European Com-mission expressed its satisfaction for the conclusion of the "Justice and Home Affairs" Chapter and suggested its closing.
Expressing his satisfaction over the European Commission's report on Cyprus, Vassiliou said the Commission underlined that Cyprus fulfills the political and economic Copenhagen criteria and is a front-runner among the candidate countries, having closed 23 out of 29 chapters of the acquis and having fulfilled the procedures for most of the remaining chapters.
He also noted that the Commission deemed that the lack of progress in the Cyprus question lies with Ankara and said it was most significant that Europe considered there was a window of opportunity for a settlement prior to the accession.